New to therapy ?
If you've never seen a counsellor or therapist before, it can seem a little strange to come and talk to someone for an hour a week about the intimate details of your life. But sometimes, at the very minimum, having a place that is solely for you, where you can go to 'offload' your worries with someone who is an 'outsider' in your everyday life can be an immense relief. On top of this, a therapist has years of training (usually including a lengthy experience as a client themselves) to gain an in-depth of understanding of how people feel, think and function, and they will also have developed an extensive range of skills to help people to build more awareness of themselves and others and to change the way they behave.
In a therapy or counselling session, you might talk about things that are causing you stress in your current life, or you might talk about something that happened in the past that you feel you never quite got over and it still affects how you feel about yourself today. There is a common view that when you go to therapy, you talk about your childhood because the way you were brought up has a lot to do with how you respond to things today. While it's definitely true that your childhood experiences affect who you are today, in therapy we won't necessarily focus on the past. The past will come up because it is inextricably linked to the present, but we can easily be talking and working mostly with current situations in your life.
The difference between psychotherapy and counselling
Psychotherapists and counsellors have different training, but there are overlaps. Psychotherapy training is longer and in more depth than counselling training, and in this way, I believe psychotherapists have a broader and deeper range of skills. Having said that, some counsellors can be just as good as psychotherapists for certain issues. I think the major difference is that counselling tends to be of a shorter-term nature and very much more goal-focussed. Psychotherapy goes deeper, can be more challenging, and more of a long-term process, but is often ultimately more rewarding and life-changing. I can offer both counselling and psychotherapy. It isnt important to define which it is, but in the first few sessions we will establish together what it is that you would like to work on and how long we might work together.
How long will it take ?
This is usually the most frequently asked question, as we all want to get rid of our undesirable feelings, thoughts and situations as quickly as possible ! If it's emotional support through a difficult period, this may last as long as you feel you need it. Sometimes clients can achieve the changes they want (for instance, to stop having panic attacks) in as little as 12-15 weeks. Sometimes, if the issues a person has are deeper and more complex or painful, it may take quite some time to be able to really trust the therapy process and the therapist and get to the root of the problems. This can take more than a year, but it is undoubtedly worth it.